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In the last couple of weeks, the Market has exploded with peas. Sugar snaps and snow peas work beautifully in dishes like stir-fry as we showed you in last week’s recipes; but what about English (garden) peas also known as “shelling” peas? These are my personal favorites.  Instead of cooking them whole, in the pod, you shell them and use the tender, delectable peas inside to add a wonderful delicate flavor to all kinds of dishes! They are a little more work, but well worth the extra effort. And don’t put off buying them as they won’t be around for long!

Sweet Green Pea Crostini

adapted from a recipe by Molly Watson for about.com local foods

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. sweet green pea pods/English peas/garden peas
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 thick slices artisan baked bread
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Fresh Pecorino or other hard cheese for shredding or shaving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Mint, chervil, or chives, chopped, for garnish (optional)  

Directions:

  1. Shell the peas.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to the water. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook them for about a minute. Drain the peas and rinse them with cold running water to cool them off quickly. Shake as much excess water off as you can.
  3. Now you can work in a bowl by hand or in a blender or food processor. Put the peas and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the vessel of your choice. Mash the peas with a fork or pulse in the blender or processor to half-mash the peas.
  4. Toast the bread. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the toasts with the garlic. Discard the used garlic clove or use in another dish. Spread each toast with its fair share of the pea mash and drizzle the remaining olive oil over them. Sprinkle the toasts with grated Pecorino and black pepper, as well as more salt to taste (a bit of fleur de sel is nice here too if you have it on hand) and any herbs you choose to use – in my humble opinion nothing beats the peas-mint combination. Serve quite soon, almost immediately. Makes 6 crostini.

Fresh shelled peas can easily be added to rice, pasta, or risotto to give those dishes an added element of fine flavor. Here are some more ways to use these rock stars of early summer! Use them the day you buy them for maximum fresh flavor!

Angel Hair Pasta with Bacon and Peas

Jamie Oliver’s Cheesy Peas

Fresh Pea Soup with Chive Blossom Cream

Fresh Shelling Peas Four Ways

photos from Williams Sonoma Agrarian, Cook With Jamie (Oliver), and Everyday Food